The Dave Holland Quintet will be appearing at the Van Dyck on Friday, December 16, 2005.
Shows @ 7:00 & 9:30pm
The Van Dyck
237 Union St.
DAVID HOLLAND QUINTET
by Randy Treece
Much like a celestial shower, a visit by the baddest jazz band on the planet to the Capital Region is a rare artistic occurrence indeed. The Van Dyck has auspiciously succeeded in a masterful coup in securing the legendary Dave Holland and his magnificent Quintet for a double show on December 16th. This show may be, with little challenge, the jazz highlight of the year.
Nothing could be more stirring for jazz fans than to hear an extraordinary artist and his coterie of long-term, equally comparable, musical pals - the Quintet which was formed in 1997 - who have all grown exponentially through exceptional musical experiences and metamorphoses, earning their jazz pedigree the hard way by working alongside a host of jazz luminaries to now become the epicenter of modern jazz, which knows no boundaries on imagination and creativity. And because of Holland's and the Quintet's riveting commitment to an unparalleled ensemble sound, strongly supported by each individual's musical muscularity and exuberance, every jazz pollster has had them in their sights for years. Turn the page of any respectable jazz magazine and read the omnipresent homage to this musical icon and exhilarating band, so much so that you would need a calculator to tally all of the recent accolades profusely bestowed upon Holland and the Quintet: a perennial winner as a bassist and artist of the year for nearly a decade; a leader of one of the most exciting big bands of this era; always in the top three contenders as a composer and arranger year in and year out; Grammy nominations for the Quintet's releases Extensions, Prime Directives, and Not for Nothin', and the big band wonder, What Goes Around, which actually won a Grammy in 2003; the producer of his own jazz label, Dare2 Records; and a Quintet that is generally feted as the best jazz combo of our time. It should not be surprising to anyone that there are more laurels to come for Holland and his bands as the year closes.
Although the band evolves around the musical genius of its grounded force, Holland, all of the other members of the Quintet are stellar musicians in their own right: Chris Potter, a tour de force saxophonist deserving of wider recognition; Robin Eubanks, a highly pursued trombonist and composer; Steve Nelson, a vibraphonist with few peers; and, an up and coming rhythm master, Nate Smith. This is no ordinary jazz group merely improvising and playing chordal changes on jazz standards to the delight of the faux-cognoscenti. The music is refreshing with engaging melodic references, striking harmonic structures, ever evolving rhythmic patterns, and plenty of individualized musical statements from the team members. Eschewing his free jazz credentials, Holland composes some amazing accessible but uncompromising music palettes that seem to capture the exclusive talents and inclinations of the members of the group, much in the vein of Ellington and Mingus. Holland goes to exceptional length to afford his musical mates a vehicle to explore and propel their own personal lyrical statements with the freedom to curiously roam within a song to embroider it with texture and momentum as a complement to his overarching conceptions. Cosmic ideas and innovative interpretations, the core elements of the Quintet, culminate into an inimitable and passionate sound.
Presumably, and it is this writer's fervent hope, the musical discourse we will hear will be from Dave Holland's latest opus for big bands, Overtime. I do not focus on Overtime to the exclusion of the Quintet's or Holland's other recordings, which are indeed marvelous in their own right, but there is something poignantly compelling about Overtime. Big band recording notwithstanding, the essential elements of this recording are readily adaptable and considering Holland's immense compositional repertoire and the fact that the Quintet was augmented by eight other musicians on this album, it will not be an encumbrance for him and them to translate these delicious musical themes to the smaller ensemble context. Free For All, the second movement of the album's Monterey Suite, has already been recorded on the Quintet's live album, Extended Play.
Overtime is a cornucopia of original compositions ripe with infectious energy, sophisticated arrangements, and ambitious rhythms. The album commences with a four-part Suite - commissioned by the Monterey Jazz Festival - that serves up a healthy dosage of verve and variation. The Monterey Suite, which is an ebullient musical montage, starts with a swinging thrill Bring It On, continues with a similar flare with the buoyant Free To All, slows into a nostalgic-filled ballad on A Time to Remembered, and then closes with an irrepressible soaring tempo and spirited interchanges on Happy Jammy. The listener becomes captive to every unique ingredient of these musical treasures - the intriguing individual statements, the matchless interplay between the cohorts, the euphonious melodic expressions supported by challenging harmonic sensibilities, and the overall beckoning nature. Happy Jammy is the epitome of these characteristics and may be the gem on this recording. Ario has a darker hue to it than any of the other songs on this album. Mental Images, written by Robin Eubanks, is a complex arrangement showcasing the allure of the brass juxtaposed against Steve Nelson's tremendous harmonic utterances. Holland's music escapes categorization as evidenced by his chic, funk sentiments on Last Minute Man. Overtime is indubitably a five star recording and would be a fine addition to any musical library.
Returning to my initial observation, it is a special occasion indeed when an audience is treated to musicians of this caliber playing music of exceptional depth and interest. The Van Dyck should be packed to the rafters on the 16th.
Randy Treece is an avid and ubiquitous fan of jazz music, especially on the local scene. For many years he has contributed jazz artist reviews for "A Place For Jazz "and has written album reviews on request by jazz artists. Randy resides in Albany and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.